Friday, February 03, 2012

Dealing with Aging Parents - The relationship is worth more than making sense

Martin Brossman II and Julia McLean Brossman my parents.
Last weekend when I was home to visit my Father and Mother who have 24hr in-home care I was reminded of what my good friend T. Ho Haryadi said about relating being more important than making sense when dealing with people that have a decline in mental abilities.

I used to try to point out to my parents what was "right" as their mind started slipping and often lead to them just feeling criticized or my father getting emotionally upset. My father has become more emotionally vulnerable and my mother more feisty with aging.

I was sitting next to my Dad watching an action movie (he still likes them) and from his recliner chair he looked at me and asked how his parents were doing. I just answered "fine" (they died years ago). Then he asked if they were still in Allentown PA and I said they moved to Womelsdorf PA and were doing well (where they were buried but that was not said as well). He smiled and looked back at the TV.

After the show he was ready to go to sleep and I talked to the caregiver a bit then went upstairs myself.  At the top of the steps my Mom scared me half to death. She was hiding behind the banister at the top of the steps and said, "Ssh, they don't know I am still up". I just replied, in a soft voice, "I understand, I will help you back". I took her arm under mine and lead her back to her bed where she went to sleep. I think she thought she was 12 years old listening in on her parents conversation.  My friend John Z. pointed out how he had a similar situation with his grandmother and how he realized that in that moment the 90+ year old women got to be  young again.

What a gift that I discovered that relating is more important than making sense, so I could be with them in their aging process. I need to tell you I still have a lot of stress with the responsibility of taking care of them but these are precious moments that should not be missed.

Special thanks to my good friend Thomas Golden for encouraging me to write this both for others and so I remember it. He is the author of the must read book on men and grief: "Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing"

- Martin Brossman
Author of the book - Finding Our Fire: Enhancing men's connection to heart, passion and strength.